Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Princess party!!

Wow, so much has gone on this month that I can see the dust collecting around here.  With the holidays approaching I have to say that family duties have come first. But I have not forgotten my loyal and new fans!  So as promised I am posting about our Princess birthday party.  It wasn't easy when Little Miss Bacon said she wanted a princess party but not Disney princess party.  How was I going to pull this off without breaking the bank?  Thankfully my craft skills came into play here and another thankful thing, I had most supplies already around the house.  But even if I didn't, I wouldn't have to invest much into it all.  So the planning started, and out came the pen and paper to plan a party for six little princesses! 

First the invites had to go out.  I didn't want to spent a lot of money on them, or an extra trip to town. Thankfully an Internet search solved my problem. I was able to find these super cute invites to print out. I downloaded them to my computer, opened them in the paint program and typed in the party info.  I rolled them up scroll style, secured with ribbon.  I cut out these circles and wrote each girls name on the back.  Invites ready to go!

Now to decide on cake.  Little Miss Bacon wanted a cake with a crown, humm not to hard there.  I dug though the dress up tub and found a sparkling crown.  Perfect for her cake.  I also remembered some cupcake wrapper kit I won this past spring that had princess crowns in it for cupcakes.  Cake done!

 Then we planned a few basic games, you know the good old fashioned birthday kind.  Anyone amazed by some birthday parties out there?  I've heard of bouncy houses, live animals, and much more.  We just went classic here and it paid off both in my pocket book and the kids attention!  Wonder what we all played?  Musical chairs, freeze dance, Princess says (instead of Simon), and pin the crown on the princess.  Yes I hand drew a princess on a large pieces of paper and made a felt crown for them to pin on, total cost = free! Ok so she may not be the prettiest princess out there, but Little Miss Bacon had fun coloring her in!

The final planning was the take home goodies.  I was told you can't have a princess party with out crowns.  I wanted something that wouldn't break easy, and that every girl could wear.  I opted for felt crown headbands.  These were super easy to make too, and they can slide off the headband for the girls to wear after the party as well. 

Here is what you need:
2 pieces felt (coordinating colors) 
glue gun
jewels optional

 First take one pieces of felt and cut the top part of your crown out of it. Make sure not to cut the whole crown out. 

From your other pieces of felt cut out the small crown.  I free hand drew all of these.  And I have no idea how to link to a pdf to attach my patterns to it.  It's ok to wing things, It adds to the character of it! This smaller crown you can cut out all the way. 

Next take the first crown (this is the bigger one that is not all the way cut out.  And place it around your headband.  I cut two little slits in the fabric to help make it fit better.  Make sure it is angled outward or in the same direction the crown shape is.
Now is the part to work carefully with. Take your hot glue gun and glue the cut out crown to the felt.  Once it's glued down you can cut out the rest of the crown from the felt.  This makes it easy for them to be the same size once you glue them together. 

Tada! A princess crown.  You can re-glue any parts that seem like they are too lose once you get it cut out.  I also glue near the opening for the headband to slide though so it will stand up more on the girls head.  I didn't glue the headband to the crown though, I wanted it to be able to slip off so in the future the girls could remove it and just wear the headband. 

Now glue on your small crown to the big one.

And what is a princess without some gems right!  I had a packet of these stick on scrapbook gems left over from another project I made a long time ago. I used the glue gun to put a few on each crown.  Don't have gems? No problem. Use some of the remaining felt scraps to cut out flowers or hearts to glue on instead.  You know me better than to buy extra things right!
I think they turned out awesome! The 'princesses' liked them as well, and that really
is all that counts right?!
So crowns are finished, what else does a princess need?  How about a magic wand!  I saw this idea on pinterest when I was searching ideas for the princess party. OH how I love that website. If you are looking for anything you can find it there!  I just happened to have a large bag of korked ribbon in my craft box from when I used to make Little Miss Bacon's hair bows.  I knew I was saving it for something.  If you don't already have korked ribbon (you know that cute spiral stuff) no worries. It's super easy to make!  And it will save you a ton of money on hair bows to make it yourself too.  First you need some dowels.  Any size you want your curls to be.  I bought a bunch at our local hardware store and used one of Mr. Bacon's saws to cut each in half. 

Then take a ribbon, any kind of ribbon I found will curl, grosgrain ribbon tends to keep it's hold a little better but if you find something else cute in the craft department, give it a try! Start your ribbon at about a 45* angle on your dowel.  Secure it to the dowel with a WOODEN clothes pin. This is important that it's wooden because plastic will melt in the oven.  Continue to wrap the ribbon until you get your desired lenght or the end of the dowel and secure it with another clothespin.  Keep going until all your dowels are wrapped or you have enough ribbon for your project. 

Now that you have them all secure to the dowel, preheat your oven to 225*.  Yes you read that right, you need to bake your ribbon!  Pile all the ribbon wrapped dowels on a baking sheet adn pop them in the oven for 25 minutes. Not hard to remember right, 225* for 25 min.  Easy! When they are done, let them cool and unwrap them.  You'll have curly ribbon!  So now that I have my ribbon all curled it's time to work on those wands.

Take some ribbon and cut it to your desired lenght. I think I cut these between 3.5-4 inches. Really I just guessed at lenghts and didn't measure. Mr. Bacon would say that it is quite normal for me to not measure much!  He hates watching me bake becuase I rarely use measure spoons!  Not only did I cut curly ribbon, I also cut straight ribbon for these wands too. 
Once you haev all your ribbon lenghts cut, it's time to assemble them.  I took a thin ribbon and cut it about 6 inches. (yes it's a lot, but it makes tying much easier)  Lay your thin ribbon vertically on your work surface.  Start to lay your cut ribbon horizontally on the ribbon.  How many you lay on there is your preference, the more you lay the fluffier the wand. I'd say I places between 15-20 ribbons per wand.

Once you have your nice little pile, you have to do the tricky part.  Pinch all the ribbons together.  With your other hand take the thin ribbon and tie a knot around the others.  If you happen to have a second set of hands, this will go a lot smoother!  Once you have a good tight knot you can take a look at your work. If some of the ribbons are not even just give them a gentle pull to straighen them out. 

Next its time to attach it to your dowel. For this project I did have it invest in a package of dowels for the wands. I paid a whole .96 for a pack of 16 of them from walmart.  Not too bad for the budget!
Take out one dowel and tie the thin ribbon around the end of it.  Secure it as tight as you can with a knot. 
Next take the thin ribbon and twist it down the dowel and secure with a dab of hot glue. 
Now that the ribbon is secre it's time to wrap the dowel.  Take a long length of ribbon and secure it to the top of the dowel with a dab of hot glue.

Continue to wrap the whole dowel with the ribbon, wrapping it at a 45* angle to avoid overlapping too much.  Then secure the bottom with another dab of glue.  It can be a bit tricky to wrap over the thin ribbon that is glued to the dowel, just do your best. 

Stand back and admire your princess wand!  Beautiful right! The girls loved these.

But if you're like me it's not over until you have a jewel. I had a few of the stick on gems leftover from the crowns so I added one to the middle of each ribbon bouquet on the wand.  Nothing says princess better than some bling right!

Each girl picked out a wand and crown as they arrived to the party.  It was a blast.  Lots of giggles and smiles, games, cake and presents.  Mr. Bacon and I were exhaused by the time it was over.  We also sent the girls home with a thank you baggie of goodies.  I wasn't going to at first, I thought the wands and crowns were enough, but I happened to hit target's dollar spot on the right day. They marked all their princess stuff down 75% off! I picked up princess note pads, purses, bracelets and added a chapstick to each baggie.  Total cost was under $2 each.  I placed them in brown paper lunch bags I had in the pantry, punched holes in it and secured it with a ribbon and another princess circle from the above website.  They were a hit as well! 
Whew! Tired and exhaused.  Sorry for all the pictures but I hope you enjoyed Little Miss's Princess party as much as we did.  So what little princess are you going to spoil! 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Feels like Fall outside

Do you ever notice how your meals change with the season?  At least they do for us. Perhaps that's because we have four seasons in Minnesota.  In the summer we stick to more light meals, grilling, and salads.  But in winter its the food that makes you feel all warm and cozy inside.  This meal is defiantly one of those!  I've been asked by a few readers for this recipe since it was on our last meal plan.  It's super easy to make and reminds me of thanksgiving.  You have to try it.

Chicken Supreme:
1lb chicken breast cut up
2- small packages roast beef sandwich meat (like buddig or store brand)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup water
2 cups shredded cheese (your choice, I use co-jack, swiss, provolone, I like to mix it up sometimes!)
1 box stove top stuffing

First preheat the oven to 350*.  Grease a 9x13 pan generously and set aside.  Open up the two packages of roast beef meat and cut into small squares.  Sprinkles these all over the bottom of the pan you just greased.  Next layer on the cut up chicken. 

Now for the next layer (aren't layers fun?! Ok so Ma Bacon may be a little over tired here. We've had a busy start to November with Mr. Bacon's birthday and Little Miss Bacon's birthday back to back.  Oh and keep watching, I will be posting our fun frugal birthday party we had for Little Miss Bacon too!).  Take your shredded cheese and sprinkle it over the chicken.  I used co-jack for this dinner. I also happened to have a few slices of swiss cheese left over in the fridge that needed to be used up.  So I broke them up and placed them on top.  You don't need to add more cheese unless you are like me and was born in the great cheese state of Wisconsin! (GO PACKERS!)  Yes we eat a lot of cheese at our house.

Now in a small bowl add your soup and water.  Mix it well. 
Take the soup mix and pour it over the cheese.  See I told you this would be easy to make!
Next take your box of stuffing (no need for it to be name brand, it was just what I had in the pantry) and dump it in the bowl you used for the soup mix.  If you'd like you can rinse the bowl first, I don't mind getting messy though.  Add in the recommended amount of HOT water but no butter according to the box.  I just use hot water from the tap since ours comes out so hot.  You don't need to boil the water first at all. Just mix the stuffing with warm water in the bowl. Sometimes I even use my hands for this step.

Sprinkle the stuffing over the top.  Now it's all ready for the oven.  Bake at 350* for 1 hour. 

That's it, when it's done let it cool a few minutes before serving.  I make some of the corn we froze and homemade buns to go with this.  Amazing diner without the thanksgiving work! 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Who needs Olive Garden?

Mr. Bacon and I love Italian food.  One of our favorite places to go is Olive Garden.  We use to go there a lot in our pre-kid days.  When Bacon Jr was little it was one of his favorite places to go, we even had a full cupboard of Olive Garden kids cups!  But there is no way I want to attempt to take 4 kids out there now, and I couldn't imagine the cost of that bill!  Those were also the days before we learned how much we wasted money on things we 'though' we needed.  I'm happy to have those days behind us!  I love Chicken Alfredo. It's one of my favorite things to eat.  So I was very happy when I found this recipe!  Want some amazing Italian food without the restaurant price and hassle?  I thought so! 

Chicken Alfredo:
1 lb chicken breast- cut up
2 cups broccoli - thawed or raw cut into small pieces
3/4 box fettuchini noodles

1 stick butter
1-8oz cream cheese (low fat is ok!)
2 tsp chopped garlic (I use heaping tsp but we like garlic)
2 cups milk
6oz grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 tsp pepper

First get your water boiling for your noodles, cook them according to the package. Now you want to get the sauce going.  I use a small pot for this.  Add the butter, cream cheese and garlic to the pot.  Set on the stove on low heat and allow it to melt.  You don't want this to be cooked on high heat or it will burn.  Once that is melted it will look quite lumpy, don't panic it's suppose to be like that.  I use a whisk to mix it good.  Then slowly add in the milk while mixing.  This will smooth out the lumps into a creamy sauce!  Add in the pepper and cheese and allow it to cook on low or med low heat.  The Parmesan cheese takes some time to melt down so I like to start this right away and let it warm on low heat while I cook everything else. 

Next take your cut chicken and saute it in 1-2 TBSP oil and your favorite seasoning. I use Mrs. Dash garlic and herb for this recipe. 
When the chicken has been cooking for about 5 min on med heat, add the broccoli to it.  This will cook it but hopefully not make it too mushy. Continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.  I was going to take a picture of this.  But as you can see we were a little busy. Sister in law Bacon was here to play with the kids and we decided to make some fun cookies!
When the noodles are tender, drain them.
When the chicken is cooked, add the Alfredo sauce to the chicken. 
Next take the biscuits out of the oven.  Yes you can't have chicken Alfredo without some biscuits or bread sticks!  Remember this recipe?!
Now find a big dish.  I used a 9x13 pan.  This pictures looks like it's going to over flow, but don;'t worry, I made a batch and a half when I cooked this time. 
Ahhh... savor the aroma.  I love this stuff so much it's making my mouth water for some. Too bad we dont' have any leftovers anymore.  You have successfully made an amazing Italian meal at home for a fraction of the cost of going out to eat.  And you don't have to be embarrassed about how you kids act while you eat it!  Enjoy!